Annie and friends design T-shirts for kids in Sderot.
In honor of her bat mitzvah, Ayelet Grossinger chooses Operation Embrace as her tzedaka project.
Ayelet and her family sponsor a day in Jerusalem for 12 bat mitzvah girls from Sderot who have been unable to celebrate this milestone. Due to the fear of possible rocket attacks,Sderot families have curtailed their public celebrations. When visiting the Kotel, each girl wrote a special note to help Gilad Shalit and the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Each bat mitzvah was given a special certificate from the office of the chief Rabbi of the Kotel. It was a most meaningful day for all.
Yael comforts victims of terror in Sderot with pillowcases she donated from her Bat-Mitzvah project.
For her Bat-Mitzvah project, Zoe and friends make Purim bags for victims of terror in Israel.
In honor of her Bat-Mitzvah, Maya and the students from The Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy make cards for Sderot residents.
I recently took a trip to Israel with my family. It was an amazing experience. I was able to chant my Haftorah portion at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the holiest place in all of Israel. We had an amazing tour guide and I learned so much about the history of the country. I did not really want to learn on spring break, – no kid does. But this was different, when I was there I felt so at home and so welcomed. Whenever I learned something there I thought to myself, wow, this is really were it happened. This is the battlefield of David and Goliath. This is where the War of Jericho was fought. It is one thing to learn about something with a pencil in your hand and a notebook full of notes. But to actually be standing on Masada were Jews preferred to kill themselves instead of becoming slaves, it makes it so much more unforgettable.
But there were two things about the trip that meant more to me then anything else. One was who I was with – my parents and brothers and Grammy, Gramz and Z. (Unfortunately Poppy Boy wasn’t there physically, but he was there in spirit.) Secondly, I had the opportunity to see of one of my charities – Operation Embrace – in action. There are so many aspects of this organization that relate to my Haftorah portion – starting with the selfless founder – Aviva Tessler – who like the men in my Haftorah portion put so many others before themselves.
And then there is the Operation Embrace family that we met – a fun and loving family of 5 that we share so much with as Jews, but our lives couldn’t be any more different. The Elmakey family lives in Sderot – just north of the Gaza strip. Hamas has fired thousands of missiles into Sderot that have and severely injure people and destroyed homes. Sderot has a blimp in the sky to alarm people when a rocket is approaching – if they hear an alarm they have only 12 seconds – and most likely less time – to get into a bomb shelter. The day before we met this family they had 9 sirens go off and they spent the night in a shelter. When we met them I asked the Dad why don’t you move to a safer place? You have three kids and you do not want them to get hurt? He told me “Danny, if we move away then Hamas wins! We cannot let that happen. “ Something struck me right when he said that. He was not saying that just for himself, but he was saying it for all of us. Their lives are disrupted daily and they have suffered greatly, but instead of moving away, they courageously stay. And to me, like the four men in my Haftorah portion, these people are heroes. And their presences and willingness to stay “in the front lines” is why Israel remains so strong after 60 years. Yehuda’s comments were the most inspiring words I have ever heard a human being say. It taught so much about the peoples in Israel and how strong they are.
And as I am sure the community in my Haftorah portion were grateful to the four men that saved them, I am grateful for the Elmakey family and the countless others that have sacrificed so much so that I can stand here and proudly become a Bar Mitzvah.
Ori, a bar mitzvah boy from Potomac, Maryland made home visits to Adir, and Matan, age 15, who were both badly injured in a kassam rocket attack. Ori donated a portion of his bar mitzvah funds to help with needs for both Adir and Matan.
Zachary Weinstein, a recent bar mitzvah, is pictured with his generous donation to Operation Embrace. Zach celebrated his bar mitzvah on June 2, 2007 at Bnai Tzedek Congregation in Potomac, Maryland. As part of the Bar-Mitzvah program the kids choose a Mitzvah project to participate in or make a donation and Zach chose Operation Embrace and it’s mission to help victims of terror in Israel. Because of Zach’s generous donation, approximately 40 terror victims were able to travel from the Haifa area and participate in a therapeutic excursion to Neot Kedumim, a Biblical Nature Park Reserve. Participating in this group were also the parents of one of the three kidnapped soldiers from last summer. Social workers from Rambam Hospital in Haifa escorted the group and a professional guide navigated the group through the park. Participants in the group became quite emotional when they all planted something called a “shekem” plant, meaning “recovery.” Victims of terror attend “shikum,” or rehabilitation treatment on a regular basis which shares the same root word as “shekem.” The guide emphasized, that each member of the group was planting new roots of recovery for themselves.
Thank you again to Zachary Weinstein for his gift of a life altering therapeutic excursion for people who in general have a hard time leaving their homes at all.
In honor of his bar mitzvah, Etan Grossinger from New York City, chose Operation Embrace as his Tzedaka project. Etan and his family traveled to Israel to celebrate his bar mitzvah, however, Etan also wanted to share the celebration with children from Sderot who are suffering from trauma. On August 28, 2007, Etan and his family joined 40 children from Sderot in the Lahav Forest located near B’eer Sheva for a day filled with therapeutic team building and fun activities. This amazing day was organized with the help of Operation Embrace social workers as well as Keshet Educational tours. The counselors were trained outdoor activities counselors (Etanim ba’teva) who focused on teaching concepts such as trust, teamwork, survivor skills and friendship. Etan’s family said that this was the most amazing day.